Travel with Riva | Winter in Paris

I feel like I'm still in that time. Still stuck on Valentine's Day and that whole week. It's filled with so much wonder and awe. 

Warning: May use the words: amazing, magical, incredible a lot. 

Travel bug has caught us and we can't wait to see the rest of the world. So in the meantime, here in San Francisco, I'm going to try my hardest to share this incredible and unforgettable experience with you. 

So the warning, yeah, I have to start off with that. Maybe thesaurus can help with words about this trip in a much better sense. If you'd ask me about my top 3 places to visit, my answers are: Paris, Jerusalem and Italy. I like the old classic architecture with so much history and richness in culture. I like getting lost in streets and just wander around the neighborhood to just get a glimpse of what it feels and looks like. 

I had always dreamed to go to Paris. When Kevin told me, "let's do it, let's go." I didn't believe him at first. Ha. It had always been a distant dream. Sounds cheesy but it was true. Someday, yeah we'd say. So we just went for it. If someone told you, you could go to Paris for $500 roundtrip, would you believe it? Possibly same as your ticket to New York. You've probably heard it before but there's a lot of budget airlines out there for instance WOW Air that have promos that you can fly to Europe for an affordable price. Check their deals right now. No, I'm not sponsored by WOW, I am just telling you, that this dream is freakin' possible and WOW just made that happened for us. Thank you Lord.

We spent exactly 8 days in Paris. 4 days in Montmartre Area and the remaining half in Le Marais. 

To simplify things, First part of Paris:

Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysées, Grand Palais, Pont Alexandre III Bridge, Montmartre, Sacré-Cœur, Le Canal Saint Martin, Notre Dame, Saint Germain, Le Louvre, Place de la Concorde

I will never forget that feeling when we first got off from the Metro walking to our AirBn, looking around and just taking it all in. We were already blown away by the richness of just a typical Parisian street. It's crazy. Literally every corner is photo opportunity. No exaggeration. 

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My french friend advised me you could get by easily if you know a few french. I'm glad I'm typing this down instead of saying it cuz I'll likely butcher my pronunciation haha. Kevin is good though. Phrases like, bonjour, sil vous plait, Parles vous anglais? Je ne parle pas francais, pardon, merci, oui, come in handy. Just like any other foreign country you visit, courtesy, culture etiquette and manners are so helpful. Funny enough, our first meal in Paris was actually Chinese since we were so intimated to speak at first, we walked out in a bakery right after the lady started talking to us in French. We were tongue tied! They do speak English a bit but I think they appreciate it if you greet them and say you don't speak their language right off the bat.

 

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We got around Paris by Metro. Kevin and I love to wander and to get lost in the city (in a GPS safe way, please). We love seeing the city by foot. Paris Metro is similar to New York. Frustrating in the beginning but you learn as you go. We relied on Google Maps as our GPS. It's pretty updated, but going in and out at CDG can be confusing. So pay attention to directions and stations.

There's no denying that when you think of Paris, you think of Eiffel Tower. You probably have a picture framed in your house, a figurine, a keychain, a print on your shirt, it's so iconic, it's everywhere. Nothing could have prepared me for seeing this tower for the first time. We got off Pont Alexander and as we were walking, we saw the tip. You know that giggly feeling when you see you something you've been wanting to see your whole life and it's right in front of you? That feeling! And it's glorious, amazing, incredible and all sorts of magical! Its beauty stands out. If Golden Gate Bridge was right in the middle of a city, that would be Eiffel Tower in Paris. Wrong analogy I guess, bridge ≠ tower. But I hope you get the point. 

 fur lining suede jacket from H&M, denim jeans from Madewell, black boots from UGG, hat from H&M, backpack from Fjallraven Kanken

fur lining suede jacket from H&M, denim jeans from Madewell, black boots from UGG, hat from H&M, backpack from Fjallraven Kanken

 Attempted a long exposure without a tripod. A bit blurry as I expected. 

Attempted a long exposure without a tripod. A bit blurry as I expected. 

If you're in Paris, I only have 3 food places to recommend you. 1. Le Relais de la Entrocote. Google it. Their steak with that green sauce is AMAZING. 2. Du Pain et des Idees. Featured by Anthony Bourdain, their Escargot de Chocolat Pistache is the real deal. We had to take some home. 3. Angelina. Oh Angelina, you ruined me for the rest of the croissants and hot chocolate in the world. We had this twice. It's seriously the best in my opinion. 

To be honest with you, I know this is going to sound crazy, I actually wasn't excited to go to the Louvre. Just saying that is absolutely ridiculous! No, seriously, stupid reason is I don't like crowds. Now, you've probably heard about how small the Mona Lisa is, which is true so you better believe it. I'm actually glad that the Louvre has exceeded my expectations, glad that I went, and glad to say that the Louvre is by far my favorite museum. 

 fur lining suede jacket from H&M, turtle neck from Zara, striped dress from F21, tights from Uniqlo, shoes from Adidas NMDs

fur lining suede jacket from H&M, turtle neck from Zara, striped dress from F21, tights from Uniqlo, shoes from Adidas NMDs

It's so easy to get lost in the beauty of this city. If we had more time, we'd probably pick an arrondissement and just wander around the neighborhood. Kev and I are laid back travelers. We do like to plan (in our case it's me) and list all the places that we like to see: "must place" and "let's-see-this-if-we-more-time-place". I made a list on your notes app so I can share it with Kev on his phone. I also starred all these places on my Google maps so it would be easy for me to navigate them if data reception is low. The first part of our Paris trip was in Montmartre. If you've seen Midnight in Paris, you'd probably recognize the streets. Sacre-Cœur was just hiking distance (it's uphill!) from our place. This was probably to most walk that we did. 

  Notre Dame

Notre Dame

The second part of Paris, we stayed in Le Marais which is closer to the middle of Paris. It was definitely a lot easier to get around via Metro where almost everything is a few stations away. To come back to Paris after Belgium on our last leg of our trip was different from the first part. It felt so ambivalent. I'm sure it's always like that when you're on vacation. You want to just soak it all in and get your fill before you leave. The day we got back, I left my camera at our AirBnb so I could just take it all in and I don't regret doing that.

Second part:

Luxembourg Gardens, Pantheon, Versailles, Lafayette Gallerie, Palais Royal, top of Arc de Triomphe

February in Paris reminds me of our slightly chillier foggy days in SF. It is cold but not to the point, I'd have to bust out my puffy jackets. You can if you're used to a warm weather. One of the things I thought Paris wasn't it is it's very urban. When I think of Paris, I think of bougie, lavish, designer brands, Paris Fashion Week. Never have I imagined for it to be so urban. Athleisure or casual street style is everywhere. It's so similar to New York but Parisians have this effortless way to look so well put together. Long coat, skinnies, sneakers, bushy eyebrows and bold lips and you're good to go. I freakin' love that. Now that the US dollar is strong, shopping in Paris doesn't really hurt your wallet. This is one of the things I regretted not doing more is shopping. Lol. Seriously, just go for it. European brands like Zara, H&M, Mango etc are a lot cheaper there. While you're at it, when you spend more than 175 euros, you get tax refund. I bought this gray coat from Zara for only 70 bucks.  

 gray coat from Zara, mustard turtleneck from Uniqlo, faux leather pants from Albion

gray coat from Zara, mustard turtleneck from Uniqlo, faux leather pants from Albion

 at Luxembourg Gardens

at Luxembourg Gardens

 On the bridge at Pritemps

On the bridge at Pritemps

We had to choose between Versailles and D'Orsay. We wanted to do both. Sadly, museums are closed on Mondays leaving us no room for another museum trip. We knew Versailles is a must place to visit. Just an hour away from Paris, you'll find the most lavish and grand palace ever. If you follow me on Snapchat, you've probably seen me awestruck how massive this place is. I surely want to go back here in Spring or Summer. Unfortunately, some of the statues outside were covered, and most of trees and plants we're dry cuz of winter. We didn't enjoy it as much as we've expected but beautiful place nonetheless.

Another thing that I didn't know before coming to Paris is that it is so diverse. It's a mix bag of ethnicities. No wonder, some french would come up to us speaking french because there are asians speaking french everywhere. Freakin' cool. So surreal to encounter and hear Filipinos speak in French and Tagalog! There are Middle-Easterners, Latinos, Asians and Africans everywhere. Love that no one looks at you differently here unless you started speaking in English. Lol

I should've warned you that this post is going to be long and loaded with photos. I understand if you skimmed through my words, no worries. I do the same sometimes haha. But if you are reading this, I should let you know that I am having a hard time ending this. I wish you could go in my head right now so I don't have to put words into my thoughts. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this post. I aim for you to see how I saw Paris and hope to give you a different perspective of it. It's more than just amazing, incredible and magical. <3

If you've come this far, comment "Oui" so I know who actually reads this. 

Merci beaucoup! <3

Au bientot!